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Speaker Sound Bad from Behind

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  • Speaker Sound Bad from Behind

    I will say from the start this is another one of my obtuse questions.

    I am wondering if most speakers sound really crappy from behind and around the rear sides? I have an SRX722 rig (4x) and a PRX615 on sticks rig and they both sound great out front. But if you are within 5-20 feet (depending on volume) of the rear arc of the boxes they sound, well, boxy and droning.

    Now this is not generally a problem with the 722's as they are often used on larger outdoor gigs with decent stage separation and somewhat high monitor levels. I am generally the only one spending much time in the zone right behind them. But the PRX615's are often deployed for smaller gigs with low monitor levels and sometimes are very close to the musicians. When I go up on stage near a performer close to the rear of the speaker the stage mix really sounds bad. I can't help but think this is not optimum for the musicians and it is starting to make me look more closely at the resulting sound. The same effect is thrust on patrons in a tight venue if they happen to sit very close and below the speakers.

    When I often used Mackie SRM450's for mains I did not notice this. I also have some QSK K12's that don't sound markedly bad as you walk around the rear. On those boxes the highs roll off as expected but the lows and mids also drop down and you can visualize in your head how it sounds in front of them.

    On the other hand being behind the JBL's it is hard to imagine it sounds good in front of them. Maybe it is just a volume thing, or maybe it is because the JBL's are wood and the others are plastic, but I swear the JBL boxes sound much worse when you get too close to them and dramatically bad from behind.


    --Mike<br><b>&quot;</b><i>If your not confused, you don't know what is going on</i><b>!&quot;</b><br><br>Live Sound for the Mt. Shasta area<br><a href="http://www.shastalivesound.com">ShastaLiveSound.com</a><br>

  • #2
    I believe what you're experiencing is pattern control in the upper frequencies. This is intentional and a good thing. In an ideal world with the perfect speaker you wouldn't be able to hear anything at all from behind and to the sides. Not being ideal or perfect, manufacturers of better speakers try to control the sound dispersion as best they can, which ends up being a compromise of physics and cost. Better pattern control does a couple of things for you. First it lets you project sound to a specific target, your audience and properly deployed allows you to keep it off of reflective surfaces and unneeded coverage areas. Secondly, by not projecting as much behind it, will help keep it (controlled frequencies) out of your mics, reducing feedback from your mains.
    Last edited by trevcda; 07-21-2014, 04:01 PM.
    I love to sing, and I love to drink scotch. Most people would rather hear me drink scotch.

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    • #3
      Look at some polar charts. This will give you an idea of what is happening at different frequencies.

      https://www.google.com/search?q=jbl+...w=1039&bih=594

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      • #4
        Yes, totally normal

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        • #5
          So an experienced player that was forced to stand 4' beside and 2' behind a typical SOS main speaker would not be put off by the boxy tonality that resulted? Not being a performer myself I don't have experience with this.

          I can't help but feel there must be some speakers or types of speakers that would work better in close quarters at volumes that are high compared to the monitor volume.
          --Mike<br><b>&quot;</b><i>If your not confused, you don't know what is going on</i><b>!&quot;</b><br><br>Live Sound for the Mt. Shasta area<br><a href="http://www.shastalivesound.com">ShastaLiveSound.com</a><br>

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          • #6
            Originally posted by mikekars View Post
            So an experienced player that was forced to stand 4' beside and 2' behind a typical SOS main speaker would not be put off by the boxy tonality that resulted? Not being a performer myself I don't have experience with this.

            I can't help but feel there must be some speakers or types of speakers that would work better in close quarters at volumes that are high compared to the monitor volume.
            You are asking that someone change the laws of physics? Someone could design a 360 degree speaker cabinet but I doubt it would sale very well. Pattern control is a critical part of an effective speaker system.
            Last edited by sibyrnes; 07-21-2014, 10:53 AM.

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            • #7
              It will sound like it sounds. Just comes with the territory. That's one challenge with small SOS (and any small system) where the speakers are located like that.

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              • #8
                That's why decent monitors are important. I don't rely on FOH for anything I need on stage. We are usually pretty much right beside and a touch behind FOH.
                NO SIGNATURE FOR YOU!!

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                • #9
                  Funny thing is I can't tell you the number of people (some top name professionals) who will stand on stage and try and direct the FOH guy. What is WRONG with these people? :-).

                  There is an unnamed person who would stand way upstage with a wireless and tell the FOH guy (DURING PERFORMANCE) that his voice had too much high end. What an idiot. I guess they come in all shapes and sizes though :-).
                  J.R. Previously jrble

                  See my Dog Of The Hair studio at: http://www.dogoth.com/studio/

                  Quote from someone: Flat response? Get out the jack and change the tire.
                  If you think "power is knowledge", you have it backwards.

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                  • #10
                    "Laws of physics" , "Comes with the territory" -- OK I guess that is why after a show I get comments from some players that were, perhaps, behind a main speaker such as "It sounded alright", while the lead singer in the middle says "Wow that was the best we have sounded in a while, thanks!". They probably got vastly different stage mix tonality.

                    Makes me think I should work harder to keep the mains away from the performers even if it means a somewhat awkward looking FOH deployment. Or do something like side washes to try to counter act the effect of being too close behind a main FOH speaker. After all the musso's understandably seem to perform best when they get a good stage mix. And some of the more non-traditional mains positions I got forced into in the past ended up sounding pretty good in the listening area.
                    --Mike<br><b>&quot;</b><i>If your not confused, you don't know what is going on</i><b>!&quot;</b><br><br>Live Sound for the Mt. Shasta area<br><a href="http://www.shastalivesound.com">ShastaLiveSound.com</a><br>

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by mikekars View Post
                      Makes me think I should work harder to keep the mains away from the performers even if it means a somewhat awkward looking FOH deployment.
                      I would think you should place the FOH speakers where they'll sound best, for the room?

                      Musicians should understand that speakers sound different when you're standing behind them - has anyone complained to you about this?

                      MG
                      "Thank You, NASA!"

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                      • #12
                        This is why you have to trust your sound tech, as you really can't judge from behind the speaker.
                        NO SIGNATURE FOR YOU!!

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                        • #13
                          You do your best to make the performers happy on stage with their monitor mix. That let's them give a great performance, and then you take that performance and mix it out front. One of the best compliments I've received was this. I'll check with a band after the first set to see if everything is good for their monitor mix. One bass player replied "man, it sounds amazing up there. It sounds just like a CD, except ITS US!!"
                          NO SIGNATURE FOR YOU!!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by mikekars View Post
                            "Laws of physics" , "Comes with the territory" -- OK I guess that is why after a show I get comments from some players that were, perhaps, behind a main speaker such as "It sounded alright", while the lead singer in the middle says "Wow that was the best we have sounded in a while, thanks!". They probably got vastly different stage mix tonality.

                            Makes me think I should work harder to keep the mains away from the performers even if it means a somewhat awkward looking FOH deployment. Or do something like side washes to try to counter act the effect of being too close behind a main FOH speaker. After all the musso's understandably seem to perform best when they get a good stage mix. And some of the more non-traditional mains positions I got forced into in the past ended up sounding pretty good in the listening area.
                            FOH rules...if the musician's aren't thrilled with the stage sound, they'll deal with it. If the patrons aren't thrilled, you're all out of business.

                            A bit more monitor, whether via floor wedges or sidefill, should handle the issue. But in truth, the band doesn't know how they sound unless they're playing out in the audience. So their comments, while nice, aren't really relevant to the house mix.
                            Write something...

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by MarkGifford-1 View Post

                              I would think you should place the FOH speakers where they'll sound best, for the room?

                              Musicians should understand that speakers sound different when you're standing behind them - has anyone complained to you about this?

                              MG
                              Generally it seems the performers are much more discriminating about, and much more influenced by their stage mix than the general audience is about the FOH sound.

                              I have not received many actual complaints about the stage mix, other than the occasional bassist that cannot hear themselves because everyone asked that their amp be turned down. But I think some players have been conditioned to accept / expect a mediocre sound on stage. I interpret comments like "it sounded alright" or "OK" as perhaps a grudging acceptance of par for course. Of course what I would like is to give them better than what they are used to.

                              The general listening audience, for many reasons, is usually very satisfied even if things are not acoustically "perfect". They are much more swayed by an energized performance. I recently saw a group I work with doing their own sound at a small brewery patio. They had really crappy old Cerwin Vega 3 way towers, horrible vocal distortion, and frequent feedback. Yet they gave a high energy performance and the crowd spilling out into the street loved it. For some reason it brought to mind old recordings by the Clash where the fidelity was low but the feel more than makes up for it.

                              Then again at my level it is mostly the bands that hire me and if they get better than expected sound on stage and no obvious complaints from FOH, I get more work.
                              --Mike<br><b>&quot;</b><i>If your not confused, you don't know what is going on</i><b>!&quot;</b><br><br>Live Sound for the Mt. Shasta area<br><a href="http://www.shastalivesound.com">ShastaLiveSound.com</a><br>

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